This is a tutorial for making ear cuffs for using Metal Maven's Rolling Mill Component Dies:
Purchase one of our Metal Maven Ear Cuff Rolling Mill Component Dies:
Protect Your Die:
Our rolling mill component dies are made from mild tool steel and are engraved with a laser. They will come to you pre-oiled with CorrosionX oil, but you will need to continue to keep them oiled to protect them from rust and to help your metal pieces release more easily after rolling.
Roll the Pattern:
The shape of the cuff is designed with squared-off ends with rounded corners for maximum comfort for your customer. We are using the larger Phases of the Moon pattern for this tutorial.
Metal Maven Tip: Setting the rollers
When you first set your rolling mill rollers, take your die and place a piece of copper sheet on top of it. Use a piece of copper the same size as your die so the copper covers the entire surface. Then place a piece of craft foam the same size as your die on top of the copper. Place them into the opened rollers of your mill and gently close your rollers until they touch the top of the foam. Close your rollers enough so there is a little pressure, but you can still remove your die, copper, and foam sandwich. Pull the pieces out from the rollers and add a piece of cardstock on top of the foam. Try rolling your die sandwich at that setting first to see if you get an impression and adjust your rollers tighter if necessary. Rolling too tightly could damage your die or cause your die to form a drastic curve, so be careful to tighten in small increments. We include a piece of 2mm thick craft foam and a piece of cardstock for each die in your order. You can find the craft foam on Amazon. We use Darice 2mm Foamie Roll, 36-inch by 60-inch, black. Also, cut up cereal boxes work well for card stock.
Metal Maven includes an instruction sheet on how to set your rolling mill to use with our dies with the purchase of one of our Rolling Mill Component Dies.
Rolling Mill Requirements:
This Rolling Mill Component Die is a mild tool steel die that can be used in a rolling mill that can accommodate 2-1/2” wide by 1/8” thick material plus your metal, craft foam, and card stock.
Roll Your Metal:
After setting your rolling mill using the above tips, cut a piece of metal that is 2-1/2" X 2-1/2" square. We used 18-gauge dead soft copper for this tutorial and we recommend that 18-gauge or 20-gauge metals be used when making earring cuffs.
Sawing Your Piece:
Your rolled piece is now ready to be sawn out using a jeweler’s saw with a #1/0 blade. Use a jeweler's saw to saw along the raised edge of each component.
Metal Maven Tip: Use a fine tip Sharpie to trace around the outside of the component's raised edge. This makes it much easier to see when cutting each piece out.
Metal Maven Tip: I use a Saw Blade Size of #2/0 when sawing 20-gauge metal, a #1/0 saw blade when sawing 18-gauge metal and a #1 saw blade when sawing 16-gauge metal. Check out this saw blade specification chart on Rio Grande's website for recommended Saw Blade Sizes.
Smooth The Edges:
Next use a jeweler’s flat file or fine grit sandpaper to smooth and round the edges. When using sandpaper, glide your pressing along the sandpaper lightly to remove any uneven areas and smooth the edges. Start with 800 grit wet/dry sandpaper, then graduate to 1000 grit, and again to 1200 grit to achieve a smooth surface. (Different grits of wet/dry sandpaper are available at home improvement stores like Lowe’s or Home Depot).
Metal Maven Tip: If you need to remove some larger areas around the edges of your piece, a benchtop belt sander comes in handy to remove them much faster than sanding by hand.
Anneal After Sawing And Smoothing The Edges Of Your Piece:
After sawing out and filing or sanding the edges of your piece, you might want to anneal it if you are planning to shape it for use as an earring because it is now work hardened due to the process of rolling it in your mill. Annealing will soften your piece which will make it easier to form. When annealing copper, bring it to a cherry red color and then quench it in water. When annealing silver, bring it to a dull red color and then quench it in water.
Pickle Your Piece:
After quenching, submerge your piece in a pickle solution. Pickling is a hot acid bath that's used to remove flux, oxidation, and fire scale from your jewelry after soldering, annealing, or for just cleaning metal before soldering it. Pickle solution is available on riogrande.com.
Apply A Patina:
Use a patina like Liver of Sulfur to darken your piece following the instructions on the label.
Remove Patina From the High Areas:
To remove the patina from the high areas of your piece we recommend using fine grit Nail Salon buffing blocks that you can purchase from Amazon or beauty supply stores. We have a favorite brand that we order from Amazon called ForPro Ultra Gold Buffing Block, 240 Grit, Four-Sided Manicure & Pedicure Nail Buffer, 3.75” L x 1”W x1” H, 20-Count.
Forming The Ear Cuff:
Metal Maven used a 13/32" (10.3mm) round dapping block punch to form the small cuff and a 21/32" (16.8mm) round dapping block punch to form the large cuff. Avoiding using pliers to bend the cuff because they might scratch or mar the cuff's surface. You can put the punch in a vice to hold it in place and use a polyurethane hammer to form the U-shaped cuff around the punch if necessary.
Metal Maven Tip: A big time saving technique is to use a Pepe Ring Bender to form the ear cuff.
The ear cuffs are open at the ends to allow you to adjust the size to your customer's ear.
Shine Your Piece:
After buffing the surface, you can use an electric jeweler’s polishing motor or a Jool Tool with polishing compounds to put a high shine on your piece. If you don’t have a polishing motor, you can use Sunshine polishing cloths (available at www.riogrande.com) to add a nice hand polished shine to your piece.
Bonus Hoop Earrings:
Use the larger size ear cuff to make a set of hoop earrings.
Drill a hole on each side of the ear cuff.
Form the ear cuff.
Bend one side of the ear cuff outward.
Fashion an ear wire with a small loop at one end using 20-gauge wire. The loop will be attached to the front of the hoop and the other end of the wire will go through the hole on the back side of the earring.